Difference between Bone and Cartilage

Bone and cartilage are two specialized forms of connective tissues which are composed of cells embedded within an extracellular matrix. Both bone and cartilage play an important role in protecting the internal organs of our body, providing structural support and surfaces for muscle attachment.

Bone

It is a highly rigid connective tissue that forms the skeleton of vertebrates. They are the type of tissues which comprises of blood vessels and cells. A  newborn baby will have around 300 bones; by the time the baby becomes an adult, only 206 bones would remain, as a result of bones being fused together.

The main function of bones are:

  1. To serve as storage for minerals.
  2. To provide structural support.
  3. To protect the internal organs of the body.

Cartilage

It is a thin, fibrous, flexible connective tissue, which is mainly found in the external ear, larynx, respiratory tract, and the articulating surface of the joints. These cartilages lack blood vessels; therefore, the growth and development of these tissues are slower compared to that of other tissues. Altogether, there are three different types of cartilages, namely:

  1. Hyaline cartilage: It serves as a shock absorber and allows the smooth movement of the bones at joints. They are mainly found in the nose, respiratory tract, and joints
  2. Fibrocartilage is found in the knee, and it is tough and inflexible.
  3. Elastic cartilage is found in-ear, epiglottis, and larynx. It is the most flexible cartilage.

Difference between Bone and Cartilage

Bones and cartilage differ by structure, types, and function. The main difference between bone and cartilage are listed below.

 Bones   Cartilage 
Bones are the hard, inelastic and a tough organ that forms part of the vertebral skeleton. Cartilage is a soft, elastic and flexible connective tissue that protects the bone from rubbing against each other.
Bones are of two types: compact or spongy. Cartilage is of three types: Hyaline cartilage, fibrocartilage, and elastic cartilage.
Bone cells are known as osteocytes. Cartilage cells are known as chondrocytes.
Presence of blood vessels. Absence of blood vessels (nutrients are obtained through diffusion)
The matrix is both organic and inorganic. The matrix is completely organic.
Has deposits of calcium salts. May or may not have deposition of calcium salts.
The bones have a rich blood supply. Lacks blood supply (hence repair is slower)
The growth pattern of the bone is bidirectional. The growth pattern of the cartilage is unidirectional.
Presence of calcium phosphate in the matrix. Has no calcium phosphate in the matrix.
Haversian canal system is present. Haversian canal system is absent.
Volkmann canal is present. Volkmann canal is absent.
Protect the body from mechanical damage, provide a framework and shape for the body, helps in the movement of the body, store minerals, and produce both RBC – red blood cells and WBC – white blood cells. Supports the respiratory tract, acts as shock absorbers between weight-bearing bones, maintains the shape and flexibility of fleshy appendages and reduces friction at joints.

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Also Read: Human Skeletal System

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